It’s officially not weird to check out your own butthole. In fact, doctors recommend it as a way to get to know more about one of your most intimate body parts. But if a new level of familiarity with your anus has left you wondering, uh, why it smells a certain way, an anal surgeon can explain everything you need to know.
Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of Future Method, explains that as far as odors go, your booty is similar to your armpit. “They’re both hard to reach areas, there’s not a lot of air, there’s hair, and there’s moisture,” he says. “So all of those things combined with sweat glands in the area can affect the smell.” Body parts that aren’t exposed to air are more likely have a scent (if you think about the B.O. hot spots on your body, they all have that in common), and it just so happens that both the armpit and butt area are hotspots for pheromones, your body’s natural scent.
Of course, there’s one big factor that makes the anus different than an armpit: Poop comes out of it. “When you think about smell [from the butt], everyone’s minds goes right to poop,” says Dr. Goldstein. #Truth. He recommends either using a bidet or taking a shower post-poop to maintain the freshest scent and best overall butt health.
If you want to use those showers for the sake of an exceptional smelling derriere, consider opting for a body or butt scrub to slough off dead skin cell buildup and debris—but be careful with any other products you apply to the area. “A lot of people augment smell with different oils or lotions, and I am all for that,” says Dr. Goldstein. He’s a huge proponent of a nighttime shower combined with regular use of a gentle exfoliant. “The purpose of a body scrub is to create a really good environment for healthy tissue, but also for a really good lingering smell.”
Outside of the shower (read: on the day-to-day), you’ll want to be sure to keep the area as dry as possible, which is where your underwear choice comes into play. “Moisture can be trapped if you’re wearing older underwear,” says Dr. Goldstein, who stresses that aeration is key for a better smelling anal area. “The purpose of many of the newer pairs of underwear is aeration, which allows things to dry— especially if you’re sweating,” he says. Dryness is important, because moisture can lead to a buildup of bacteria or fungus… which will not smell great. Change your breathable underwear frequently, especially post-gym. Or better yet—consider going commando. “Some people don’t wear underwear at all, and the aeration is better, especially during summer months where there’s so much moisture in that area that this smell may dissipate.”
Never even considered how your butt smells? Fair. Doing nothing for the sake of bettering your anal smell is a-okay too. “There are so many different camps of people,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Some people don’t use deodorant, and they love their natural scent. A lot of people like to be able to smell their partner and understand their natural smell.” In other words: To each their own.